Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Next day we headed for Schönbrunn Palace, another UNESCO heritage site (two important heritage site in two days yipeeeeee) where we had to stand in a long Q to buy the tickets to enter, an usual thing in all the touristic attractions. This palace was enormous, gigantic, and so much different styles, some were the traditional Austrian and few rooms were decorated in Chinese and Japanese styles. The queen at that time Maria Theresa of Austria, was very much influenced by the eastern style of décor. After strolling in the palace and taking into as much info as possible from the audio guide that they gave us with the ticket, we headed for the fun part in the palace, the palace gardens. They had zoo and games like maze, musical steps, some science related games. After finishing a typical Austrian lunch in the palace restaurant and hopping into all the games possible, we headed for the famous Vienna state opera. The Opera was closed by 6 pm so we could not visit inside but met two people who were trying to sell the tickets for an opera somewhere else. We thought the prices were rocket high and politely refused the offer and headed for the St.Stephen’s cathedral to have a look inside as we peeped into another church with the same architecture and found the interiors were more interesting than the exterior. This is the place where Ludwig Beethoven, discovered that he was totally deaf, ok that is another story, so we entered the cathedral and were taken aback by the beauty, the sculptures that ornated the pillars, the main altar was a lot different from the ones we find in Germany or France. So after taking in the beauty completely we decided to head towards a theme park which is supposed to have a giantest giant wheel where we can see the whole city. So while coming out we again met another person who was trying to convince us to buy tickets for the opera. Since kee has not been to an opera we agreed reluctantly for the offer, plus he said that he’ll give us seats in one of the front rows, and at the centre, which he called the golden rows. The next set of rows were called the silver rows and the third may be the bronze, but I never bothered to ask as were so excited to watch an opera which consist of Mozart during its first half and Strauss during its second half, sitting in one of the front rows, with beautiful ballet dancers dancing for the tunes. So after buying the tickets of a hefty sum we set out to eye the whole of Vienna, through a giant wheel. What we did not know was this wheel is nothing but a theme park that offers this ride, and since we had to pay for each ride separately our minds quickly wandered away towards the more exciting rides than giant wheel.

Ho ho that was the most fun I had in a long time, these adrenaline testing rides always made me happy, so first we climbed on water splash where we got wet and the hopped into a roller coaster to dry our clothes ;) then my devil friend got fascinated by a ride that is like a swing, that swings and also rotates 360°!!!! And the swing is not something like a normal swing; it could swing a whole 180°. After she decided to take that ride, I refused to have a look at the ride, as it was too much frightening. Finally our turn came in the Q and we jumped into our seats, and I called all the possible gods existing, to save me until we have a safe landing. After fastening the belt and the armor around the shoulder, the ride started, hehehe it was a total fun, u feel nothing in ur stomach like in the giant wheel because that armor is pressing on ur stomach. But I just had one fear that I’ll slip in between the armor and the seat and fall down, given my extra strong physic, I thought anything is possible ;) after a safe landing, and thanking all the gods I called for help ,we headed for the opera as we were getting late. Our hair were totally bad because of several 360° rotations and we started to run for the opera trying at the same time to fix the hair. Luckily for us the ticket vendor said that during summer it is not necessary to go in formals, else with my bowl like pants and her colorful summer top, we would have got kicked out the instant we enter the gates. So with lots of struggle of reading the map we reached the place where the opera was to be held, a full two minutes late and the person rushed us to enter the room as we were late and the opera was abt to start, and he showed the door, for an instant from outside the door I could get a view of a part of the room and thought OMG should be enter through the stage, is it the only way are we that late and then I peeped into the room and I could not belive it, and I came out again and then again went in to absorb the reality, “we were cheated”. The room was like a 50 m2 room with 100 people, sweating like pig because of the heat, and we were asked to occupy the last rows!!! There were no gold or silver or bronze rows, for that matter we had some sort of chairs which were not neatly rowed, but were scattered. And totally there were only 5 artists, three in the violin, one on the piano and one with the big violin (I do not know the name). kee and me were stunned, that we paid so much to watch this disaster. As to pour oil in the fire, there came the opera singers, I could at least stand the male singer, but the female singer instead of just singing, started showing expressions which were terrible. Kee could not stand both of them, I even thought of whistling like in some road side shows as we were totally disappointed. Then came the dancers, they clearly had a tough time dancing ballet in the small space given n we felt pity for them, but then we were wondering, if all the artists were a part of this cheating process, n then concluded that only the master in the violin n that big violin man could be a part of this as they had a crooked smile in their face. We were curious to ask if all the people in the hall have given money like us, we nearly asked a German lady in front of us, but could not ask directly and she left. Then we went to the rest room where kee was determined to ask someone there and she was talking to someone when I was in the rest room and after we came out I asked kee if she asked someone n she replied yes and they paid more than us, at last that cracked a smile in our face hehehe ;)

I know we are terrible people, but we were not that badly cheated like the other few ;) but soon we were dull again thinking abt the opera and decided to eat our dinner cheap. So we grabbed a bite from Mc. Donald’s and started walking n suddenly we came to a big square with a beautiful building and after admiring for some time we crossed the building to find another nice, one and another, and we found that we are in the street which connects all the important monuments in Vienna. So we took a walk seeing the beauty, all the buildings are beautiful in the night with the lights highlighted at certain places. So after a long walk we reached just in time to catch the train back to our hotel. Me and kee slept like angels after a long day of adventures.

The next morning, we had a so-so breakfast at the hotel, checked out the room and went straight to the opera. The opera was breath-taking and magnificent. It was destroyed during a war and what they have now is a mixture of different type of architecture. The funny thing was the emperor who built the opera house was not an opera man and used to sleep with the curtains drawn inside his sitting box!!! The guide who guided us inside the opera told us that the tickets cost normally €10-€250!! And with the lower cost tickets u cannot have any view of the orchestra. And during the Vienna ball which is held during the month of February, the entrance ticket alone is €250 and can go upto €17, 000, I have made no mistake in putting zero’s, it is true!!! And for a concert of Mozart, there are normally 50 musicians and for Strauss, nearly 150, hehehe now u can imagine the frustration that we had yesterday. After the opera visit, we were again reminded of the haircut plan and started hunting for a decent hair salon, n to our frustration we found none. Then we started hunting for a pizza shop as our tongues were totally dead by eating that morning breakfast. And for a while we could not find any, if we found they were those high class restaurants, not affordable by students. Then at last we found one and had a sumptuous meal and had our favorite dish and with the feeling of ecstasy we set out to take the bus for the airport. Towards the bus station, we were walking happily discussing abt the food we had and laughing back like small children. The bus driver announced that again that transport is not free and we have to pay for the tickets. Since the price was not that high as that of that green colored ticket, we started digging our bags for the money, an enormous tip for the happy food that we had in the cute Italian restaurant left is with some shortage feew cents. With the bus departure in 5 min, we had to search for an automat to take out some money and as if the day was not for us, not even one automat was in the vicinity, I stopped a lady hoping to ask where the automat was, but before I could ask she said I do not know anything and walked off in her awful golden dress, which would have been cute if she had replied me, then finally found an automat took some money paid the driver and off we went to the airport losing all the little happiness we felt after eating a wonderful lunch. Reached the airport, finished our security check and stopped in a souvenir shop to buy something to remind me of this now stupid trip, which ‘ll be a wonderful trip that we made and make me laugh at all the stupid adventures when I grow old.

After writing this blog I actually would like to visit this city again and make things straight between me and the city, Vienna I love u :)

Ananthi Sankaran

Hi, this is a long post, and is in two parts, so people who have no time pls do not read as it is going to consume ur time :) so off i go abt my trip to Vienna

My trip to Vienna was an unexpected one. Last Wednesday when I was abt to close my lappie after a tiring day of work, my friend from Düsseldorf buzzed me just to talk for 10 min, n share some gossips ;) so I had no choice but to agree to talk. But what started as a short 10 min conversation, ended in a full 2 hrs chatting and the end was two tickets to Vienna in two days!!!

So the flight was from Köln, a city in Germany, since I live in the border between France and Germany, for me going to Köln is just a 2 hrs drive. So, I decided to surf a car sharing website to take to Köln and luckily found a person travelling to Köln a lot earlier than my flight schedule, but I agreed to share as it is cheaper and asked my friend to reach a bit early so that I would not get bored in the city roaming alone.

So Saturday arrived and I was so excited about my instant trip to the land which is the home of Mozart and Strauss, where the classical music was in the air. Someone told me that if u r in Vienna, u have rewind your clock 200 years back as it is full or history and wonders. Being a fan of classical music I could not wait to see and feel Vienna. So in spite of me being a late riser, I got up early to reach Luxembourg to share the car to go to Köln. My car partner was supposed to meet me in front of the railway station at 9:30 in the morning, but instead of him, I received a mssg from him saying that he is sick n cannot come to Köln today!!! Had this thought dawned earlier in his mind I could have had my good morning sleep and would have started late? So with a hurry I went to the ticket counter to buy train tickets to reach my destination, and ended up paying four times more the price than what would have been 2 hrs quick drive for a lot less money. But I made up my mind not to worry too much as this short vacation is for relaxing after a too much hectic schedule I was having for the past several weeks. So to pass my time I bought a novel called the “girls of riyadh”, which the author compares itself on the lines of “Sex and the City”, except for the city in not New York. So I started reading, while waiting for the train and in the train, which turned out to be a pretty comfortable journey, that took some three and odd hrs to reach Köln and I had no neighbors so I stretched myself like in a very comfortable couch and preyed my book. In between, I thought, since my flight is around 6pm, I can get into some hair salon and have a quick hair cut which I wanted to do for a long time, also my friend is there so she could give me some suggestions for the styles, so I quickly thought abt the different haircuts I would like to try and thought of convincing my friend too, to get one as it’ll be fun, maybe we could end up getting a similar hair cut and go around like sisters!!! So with all my different dreams, I reached the Köln station and immediately found my friend waiting for me. So I told her abt the haircut plan and she readily agreed (there was no use of planning so much as I thought she would not be interested, n was thinking abt ways of convincing her, a total waste of time, lol) so when we came out of the station, immediately there it was the largest cathedral in Germany, a UNESCO world heritage site, right in front of us. I never expected the cathedral to be so close to the railway station, u come out of the station and u face the cathedral which was one the tallest structure in the world. So admiring its beauty I asked Kee (my friend), so when is the flight, shall we have a haircut n go to eat, or eat n go to the airport (for both of us having a good meal is very important, something we learnt after come to Europe) n she replied, yes if it is possible, the flight departs by 4:00 and we have to be there by at least 3:00, and half hr to reach the airport so we have to start from the main station by 2:20 pm for train, and then the time was 1:45, so we postponed our haircut plan for Vienna and quickly rushed to have a bite at the nearest restaurant to be in time for the train. At the airport, both of us had a small backpack, very small to be checked in but some things which needed to be checked in, so we asked for a check in baggage, and the airline asked us to pay extra for the check-in, for which we had to pay more than the things in our bag, so we dumped the things that were forbidden and took our bags as hand luggage and boarded the flight for Vienna. We had a long list of things to buy, as few of the things we dumped and the rest because of confusion, both of us had not brought. So we planned to do some shopping in the city. At the Vienna airport, we went straight to the information, to buy some two days pass so that we need not buy each time a ticket when we travel, so we asked for some information and the man behind was frowning for all the questions we were asking, so I left the job to my friend who is now an expert in German thinking that hearing German can make him smile as it is the official language in Austria. Ha ha but that did not help too, may be it is what he is :D so after confirming twice with him abt the validity and the transport systems that we can take in Vienna with the two day card that we purchased, we headed for the train that transfers us from the airport to the city center. In the train every one had a ticket that was different from us, which was in green color that matched with the train interior and exterior. We laughed at others for buying a separate ticket for this train when there was an option of buying a two days ticket that can include all transports system and is nearly the same price as that of the green ticket. The trick of buying two days pass is an education we learnt after numerous travels in Europe. So when the ticket collector came we happily showed our passes to her, n she with a stern look said, ur ticket is not valid. We argued with her that we double checked that our ticket is valid everywhere in Vienna, and she said but u r not in Vienna, u r outside Vienna and ur ticket is not valid.

Hmmm so finally we had to buy those stupid green tickets and felt that now it is others turn to mock at us, we were so confident of our pass, but we did not think that rules are different in different cities though there are in EU. So after reaching the city centre, we hunted for a shop to buy the basic amenities that we did not have, so we were walking for long to find that all shops are closed, I rechecked with my friend that it was not a Sunday. Finally we stopped a Vinniean (resident of Vienna) to know y are all shops closed and she casually replied, ooh it is Saturday all shops close before 5pm. For both of us it was surprising because, in Germany shops close at 8pm sometimes even 9 and in Berlin station, I never found the shops closing, and in Paris too u can find some shops open till 9pm and Vienna which is another big capital , the shops close very very early. So to soothe our nerves we quickly grabbed an ice cream, and marched towards the cathedral, which is built in the baroque style, something we both have never seen. But as soon as we reached the cathedral we were not very happy as it resembled very much the cathedrals in Europe except for the roof n few sculptures, so we had no interest to see the interiors of it and so we strolled around the place searching for other interesting things and hoping we’ll find at least one shop that is open. After lots of hunting we decided to retire for the day as the clouds seemed to be budging with water were threatening us with its murmur. So we took the metro towards our hotel that we booked and by the time we reached the station, the rain started pouring heavily. We waited for few minutes until it stopped and marched towards our hotel following the map. The hotel had written in the website that it was only 350 m from the train station, but we never seemed to find the hotel at the place it was given. So we again stopped at a pizza shop to fill our stomachs and started walking in the slight drizzle that was soon going to turn into a heavy downpour. Finally we reached a hotel that had no name outside except for it is a hotel, and entered to enquire abt our hotel and later found from the floor mat that this is the hotel that we had booked. So with all the stupid stares and the not very good conversations with the reception we went to our room discussing y are people here so cold sometimes?

After getting refreshed we were wondering what to do as both of us are not used to sleep that early hr, so we settled to watch the TV that they had provided. We switched the TV on and soon found that the remote and the channels were not working, so we called the reception and said our problem and in minutes a man came and checked the TV, he got little electric current from the back side of the TV and finally declared that the he cannot do anything and‘ll have to wait until the morning, when the rain might stop. So after he left, we found that the TV was working but with no volume. So to change the mood to a happy one, first we started guessing the dialogues of the hero and heroine in some movie and then we found a radio and played some nice songs. Then we started talking long stories that were untold and her adventures and mine, Indian economy, food, clothing, our future, our present, others future and others present and finally we dozed off.

Ananthi Sankaran

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Two days back, we had an all girls party, it had been a distant dream for me after coming to France for studies.
Coming from India, my conversation with boys has always been restricted to certain subjects, and some were untouched during discussion, this is how a normal conversation goes between girls and boys in colleges and schools, some three years ago. So when the only girls join together, there is much more fun, with unlimited gossips and discussions, questions and answers.
During my college days we were a gang of six, three boys and three girls, we used to have so much fun together, but we had more fun after the boys left, chitchatting, eating at the road side eateries etc.
After coming to France, i wanted to have friends like i had earlier, but here the lifestyle is different, all discussions are made in open in front of everyone, even if they are not their friends, here their priorities and secrets are different from us, and slowly i forgot my priorities and started tuning in myself to the lifestyle here. But few days back i happened to read a book by Stephen Clarke " Merde Actually", where he explains abt his life in France, believe it or not, each and every single word he explained abt France is true.
So he had written that after he went back to England when he saw a group if girls chatting in England, he realized that he never saw a gang of girls in France (the phrase is not exactly the same but the meaning is this one). Though i was not sure abt it, i decided to make a survey. So every time i saw a gang of people, i counted the number of girls in the gang, and found that there are never more than two or three girls in a gang and a girls gang always consist of two people. I do not know y but this is been the case most of the time, so i packed up my dream of long gossiping and chatting and criticizing, until two days back we had an impromptu party and finally it turned out to be an all girls party!!!!!
As expected there were no French, we were one Estonian, two Romanians, one Russian and one Indian and that is me!!!! We had a little slow start, but then our party got momentum and we had lots of fun, lots of food, lots to drink and lots to discuss and lots n lots to gossip. Finally, my dream was fulfilled and my soul is rejuvenated, i am feeling content now :) this is enough for me to run myself for another three weeks, i'll be going to India and 'll visit my friends again!!!! I am excited :D

Ananthi Sankaran

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I wanted my second blog to be beautiful, expressive, well written and was planning something for some time now. But something happened in my life that needs a mention.

Until few days ago, my life was like in a fairy tale, happy and peaceful :) except for the prince ;), and then reality hit
!$&*!"$'# baam*!$&*!"$'#
i became restless thinking abt the future that is in hold for me. I think most of us tend to think abt the worries more, than abt the happiness that is waiting around us to be relished.
But today morning, one of my friend, who i lost contact long long time ago because of a small fight, called me n said, "life is too short to worry n fight abt things, so lets be in touch again"
I am sure everyone has received mails saying things like this, all the time, but u never receive the right one at the right time, or we are too much pre-occupied with the worries that we fail to see the signs sent by the supreme power to lift us up. At this moment, i would like to thank my friend, i do not know what made him call me after such a long time, but it has defenitely put me back into the right path :) so here i go to continue my fairy tale and hope i have a " happily ever after :D"

Ananthi Sankaran